Last night's dinner was inspired by Prague. We have here red cabbage, potato dumplings and lamb goulash. The red cabbage is Nigella's fabulous recipe for red cabbage in the Viennese fashion, which I have made many times before.
I found the recipe for goulash in a very unglamarous book I picked up cheap at Borders a little while back, Russian, Polish and German Cookery. You know the type, big, cheap, full of step-by-step photographs. It simply involves browning a kilo of lamb cubes (from Rendinas Organic and Bio-dynamic butcher, no less), adding onions, green peppers and paprika, then tinned tomatoes and water. Then it needs to simmer for a couple of hours until all is tender. At the end, you add a mixture of flour and water to thicken it, and ta-dah!
I was a little nervous about making dumplings - I'd eaten them in varying quality in Prague, and had never attempted them myself. The recipe I found was from a very old-fashioned looking book, The Czechoslovak Cookbook. It's small, has a purple cover with hundreds of recipes and no pictures. About as easy to read as a Kafka book. So, to make the dumplings, you start by boiling whole, unpeeled potatoes. Then you let them cool, grate them and add flour, salt and eggs. After some gentle kneading, it becomes a firm dough.
Next, you roll them into logs, and boil the soon-to-be dumplings in water for 15-25 minutes.
The recipe serves 4-6 people, but the 4 of us only ate about half of them, as they were quite filling, and we were not brought up on them. (You should see how much rice I can eat!) I was happy that my parents liked them, because I had been afraid that they would find the dumplings bizarre and dense.
A very attractive picture of the goulash. Despite the plain and dowdy cookbook, the goulash worked a treat, and the accompaniments all worked well.
Lamb Goulash with Tomatoes and Peppers
2 tbsp vegetable oil or lard
900g lean lamb, trimmed and cut into cubes
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 green peppers, seeded and diced
2 tbsp paprika
2 x 397g cans chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh marjoram
2 tbsp plain flour
4 tbsp cold water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat up the oil in a frying pan. Dry fry or fry the lamb for 5-8 minutes, or until browned on all sides. Season well.
Add the onion and garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes before adding the green peppers and paprika.
Pour in the tomatoes and enough water, if needed, to cover the meat in the pan. Stir in the herbs. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer very gently for 1.5 hours, or until the lamb is tender.
Blend the flour with the cold water and pour into the stew. Bring back to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened. Adjust the seasoning.
Potato Dumplings (with cold potatoes)
Bramborvé Knedlíky ze Studených Brambor
2 pounds potatoes
salt to taste
3 1/4 c instantized flour (this means "finely milled flour - I used "00")
boiling salted water
Boil potatoes, let stand until the next day. Peel and grate. Add salt, flour and eggs. Knead into firm dough. Do not let dough stand too long because it will get thin. Form into 4 rolls about 2.5 inches in diameter. Boil in water for 15-20 minutes. Make sure dumplings do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove from water and slice.